The Single Best Question You Can Ask on Any Interview

Let me paint the scene for you.

You’ve been scheduled for a phone interview and reviewed the job description. You’ve done whatever your mental gymnastics are to “get ready” for the conversation.

The phone rings and the telephone interview is about to begin.

Perhaps, you’ve been escorted into the conference room for the interview. Each of you has sat down.

In each case, do you wait for them to speak first?

I hope you don’t.

Whether it’s a phone interview or an in­person meeting, I’m going to offer the single best way to start the interview.

Let’s go to the phone interview for a moment. This is how the conversation will flow:

“Is this Jack James?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Hi! My name is Maria Monteiro with XYZ Corporation and I’m calling to speak with you about your background.”

“Hi, Maria, thanks for taking the time to call. I spoke with Jeff Altman about the position and he gave me a thumbnail description of the job but I wanted to get your take on it. Tell me about the position you’re trying to fill as you see it and what I can do to help you?”

Or imagine the same scene in­person where just as you each sit down for the interview, and you referred by a recruiter.

As you both sit down, rather than waiting for Maria to speak first, you do.

“Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to meet with me. I reviewed the position description your firm posted to which I responded and it provided a decent capsule of the job but I wanted to get your take on the role. Tell me about the position as you see it and what I can do to help you.”

What you do next is listen to how the interviewer describes the position and what the challenges are that the company faces. It also allows you to speak to the elements of your experience that fit the job description, instead of passively playing “question and answer ju­jitsu.”

Remember: Don’t just speak about your experience. Answer questions about your experience and connect it to the job they want to be filled!

Don’t you think that’s a better way to start the interview?



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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